Moana Pasifika recently made its first historic trip to the Pacific Island of Samoa to face off against the Queensland Reds at Apia Park. During the week-long stay in Samoa, our team were warmly received by our family, friends and fans. This journey will always hold a special place in our hearts as a massive achievement and a significant step forward for Pasifika representation.
Samoan hospitality was on full display from the moment we arrived at Faleolo International Airport with a formal welcome late Sunday night.
Our players soon trained on the field in unseasonably warm weather where even the locals felt it was hot. A big part of our trip back home, in addition to this, was about giving back as much as we could to the community, so local players were invited into the training sessions.
We went out to visit the villages, rugby clubs, schools, and hospitals to touch base with our people in Samoa. Check out this video:
Tomasi Alosio, Moana Pasifika back, who also represented Manu Samoa in 2022 shares “We really are just wanting to help and inspire the next generation. Going to the hospitals and into the villages to meet local rugby clubs and schools.”
“My rugby career started in Samoa with the Sevens back in 2015. My small nation that gave me the opportunity to kickstart my career, and so it’s awesome to come and give back to those that helped me to be where I am now.”
With over 200 appearances for Samoa on the HSBC International Sevens circuit, Tomasi put in to words the sentiments of our entire organisation. For our other local boys, this unique opportunity to return to Samoa really hit home. St Joseph’s old boy Michael Curry visited his High School which he attended in 2006-2009 and had the opportunity to reconnect with his former school, friends, old teachers, and most importantly the next generation of school kids.
“You don’t realise how fortunate you are with all the opportunities in New Zealand” Curry says.
He also spoke about how important it was for him to show the boys who are in the same position as he was, that rugby can hold the key to a great future, and that this sport can provide many great opportunities to not only play on the biggest stage, but also to explore the world and be an inspiration to the next generation.
Players who were travelling with the team but not named for the game were able to do community visits throughout the week. School visits included St Joseph’s and Leififi Colleges and on Savai’i Island Vaiola College. The reception from students and teachers was very special and often involved lots of dancing and singing!
On Wednesday the Samoa Police Royal Marching Band led a welcome parade of 600 people for Moana Pasifika which brought together local schools, communities, Samoa Tourism Authority and Digicel Samoa for the raising of Samoa’s National Flag.
Heading into Apia town centre, the Samoan public came out in numbers to meet the team, and we were blown away by the love and support we felt immediately. Being around our people and being able to engage, connect, dance, and laugh with everyone was such a beautiful highlight for us. The parade ended at SNPF Plaza with a reception organised Digicel.
The match on Friday against the Reds was the culmination of years of hard work behind the scenes, and regardless of the score the two teams put on a well-deserving spectacle for the Samoan fans to watch.
On the field, after getting off to a slow start a scrambling Reds defence couldn’t stop a brilliant inside ball from 1st 5 Lincoln McClutchie to star Miracle Faiilagi to score the storyline first try for Moana Pasifika. Dotting down in the 64th minute for his second, the unmatched crowd eruption every time their local boy Miracle Faiilagi touched the ball was a beautiful example of Moana Pasifika’s vision coming to fruition.
Hailing from the village of Vailele, Faiilagi played for his village club as well as the Lauli’i Lions before joining Moana Pasifika in December last year. His journey to New Zealand and rise in Super Rugby Pacific is exactly what Moana Pasifika was created for, and it was heart-warming to see the way the blindside flanker was embraced and loved by everyone.
Moana Pasifika would like to say a massive fa’afetai tele lava to everyone who came out to support us not only on game day but everyone throughout the entire week of our visit and who have been supporting our journey since we began in 2022.
Our deepest thanks our principal partner Sky Sport, our platinum sponsor and partner in Samoa, Digicel, for their support throughout the week, also the Government of Samoa, the New Zealand High Commission, Lakapi Rugby Samoa, Samoa Sports Facilities Authority, and the many volunteers on game day who without their support this week would not have been possible.
To our print media supplier, a special acknowledgement and thanks to the incredible team at the Samoa Observer newspaper, who helped promote and support our activities throughout the week. Also, our thanks to 2AP, who broadcast the game over the radio waves to Samoa and across the Pacific Islands.
We thank you for your unconditional love and support, and we hope we were able to inspire and connect with as many of you as we could. Thank you for inspiring us as an organisation to fulfil our vision and mission to play our first home game in Apia, and we look forward to returning home in the very near future.
Fa’afetai mo le avanoa Samoa.See all news